A Review of John MacArthur’s Hard to Believe: The High Cost and Infinite Value of Following Jesus -- By: Robert N. Wilkin

Journal: Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society
Volume: JOTGES 17:33 (Autumn 2004)
Article: A Review of John MacArthur’s Hard to Believe: The High Cost and Infinite Value of Following Jesus
Author: Robert N. Wilkin


A Review of John MacArthur’s Hard to Believe:
The High Cost and Infinite Value of Following Jesus

Robert N. Wilkin

Editor
Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society

Irving, Texas

I. Introduction

John MacArthur is the author of scores of books and commentaries, Pastor of Grace Community Church in Southern California, which averages 7000–9000 in attendance on any given Sunday, Radio preacher with the program Grace to You heard on thousands of stations in North and South America, as well as Europe, President of The Master’s College and The Master’s Seminary, and popular conference speaker.

A few years back I visited the Grace to You headquarters and spent several hours talking with Dr. Phil Johnson, the Executive Director of that ministry. During that time John MacArthur stopped by and we spoke briefly. He is a people person who has lots of charisma. In addition, as this and many of his other books attest, he boldly speaks what he is convinced is true, whether it is popular or not.

In this case, it appears that MacArthur wrongly thinks that what he is saying is a view held by a very small minority of people in Evangelicalism. The back cover has the following words in all caps at the top:

There Is No User-Friendly, Seeker-Sensitive Gospel. There Is Only The Truth.

I believe that MacArthur is wrong in thinking his view is politically incorrect. In reality, I believe what he is saying is essentially what the vast majority of Evangelicals believe. While most do not state the case as strongly as he does, the truth is, most today do not believe in justification by faith alone. Most would indeed agree that it is hard to believe.

II. The Thesis of This Book:
Believing Is Following Jesus and That Is Hard

The point of this book is well captured in the title and subtitle, Hard to Believe: The High Cost and Infinite Value of Following Jesus. MacArthur is convinced that it is hard to believe in Jesus. The reason it is hard is because he views belief in Jesus as not merely being convinced that He gives eternal life to the one who believes in Him. Rather, believing in Jesus is following Him. And following Jesus is said to be costly in Scripture.

The astute reader would wonder, then, about following Jesus. Is that not something that occurs over time? If so, don’t the title and subtitle imply that one doesn’t believe at a point in time, but instead over the course of a life of following Jesus?

As surprising as it might seem, that does indeed appear to be what MacArthur now believes. I will give evide...

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